As many as 26 athletes were presented the Arjuna Award, the second highest sporting honour in the country. And the highlight was a young Sheetal Devi. The first armless woman archer in the world.
The President of India, Draupadi Murmu gave away the awards in a formally conducted ceremony on January 9th at Rasthrapathi Bhavan, Delhi. The list heavily featured athletes who proved their mettle at the recently concluded Asian Games in Hangzhou.
President Droupadi Murmu confers Arjuna Award, 2023 on Ms Sheetal Devi for her achievements in Para Archery. She has won:
● Three gold medals and one silver medal in the 4th Para Asian Games held in Hangzhou, China in 2023.
● One silver medal in the World Para Archery… pic.twitter.com/MYrmcwp5wp
— President of India (@rashtrapatibhvn) January 9, 2024
Sheetal Devi: A Story of True Grit
Born with a condition called phocomelia, ‘which impeded the development of her arms, Sheetal Devi faced considerable challenges from a young age’. But her unshakable will power and resilience couldn’t stop her from achieving the greater heights.
Sheetal made her professional archery debut in 2019 in a camp organized by Indian army in her hometown Kishtwar, J&K. Under the guidance of Kuldeep Vedwan, a former archer, Devi adapted a special technique to use her feet and legs for shooting.
Sheetal Devi, 16, has won many laurels so far in her inspiring journey. She won Silver at World Archery Para Championships 2023 in the Czech Republic, becoming the first female armless archer to achieve this feat. This victory also earned her a position to compete in 2024 Paris Paralympic games. She also won two gold medals and a silver at the Asian Para Games 2023.
Sheetal’s inspiring journey is more than just her achievements in archery. Her life sets an example to break barriers with a strong will power and also serves as a hope to many athletes like her to aim for greater things.
Arjuna Award 2024 recipients
Aditi Gopichand Swami – Archery
Ojas Pravin Deotale – Archery
Sreeshankar Murali – Athletics
Parul Chaudhary – Athletics
Mohameed Hussamuddin – Boxing
R Vaishali – Chess
Mohammed Shami – Cricket
Anush Agarwalla – Equestrian
Divyakriti Singh – Equestrian Dressage
Diksha Dagar – Golf
Krishan Bahadur Pathak – Hockey
Pukhrambam Sushila Chanu – Hockey
Pawan Kumar – Kabaddi
Ritu Negi – Kabaddi
Nasreen – Kho-Kho
Pinki – Lawn Bowls
Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar – Shooting
Esha Singh – Shooting
Harinder Pal Singh Sandhu – Squash
Ayhika Mukherjee – Table Tennis
Sunil Kumar – Wrestling
Antim Panghal – Wrestling
Naorem Roshibina Devi – Wushu
Sheetal Devi – Para Archery
Illuri Ajay Kumar Reddy – Blind Cricket
Prachi Yada – Para Canoeing